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Being a pet parent is a huge responsibility. You must provide your furry companion with all the pet supplies they need and still have the time and energy to cuddle them and play with them. But if you think having one pet is challenging, try bringing home two furry babies.
If that’s still too easy for you, try taking care of both a cat and a dog.
It is common for people to assume that cats and dogs are mortal enemies – that’s how they have been constantly portrayed in shows and cartoons in the first place. But did you know that it is possible for these two animals to live together in harmony?
If you want to learn the secrets to helping these animals coexist, then you’re in the right place. Below are seven tips you can follow to help cats and dogs live together in peace:
Raise Them Together
Raising them together is one of the best ways to ensure that cats and dogs can comfortably coexist. This is mainly because puppies are more easily trained than adult dogs. They also tend to be less confident and territorial, making it possible for their feline companions to become the “alpha” of the household.
Moreover, puppies and kittens would have no prior experience (be it good or bad) with each other, so they can get along faster.
As they grow up, they will eventually form a bond. There will be times when the puppy’s play may still be a bit too rough for your smaller and more fragile kitten, so be ready to supervise. Watch out for your kitten’s signal that playtime is over as her energetic canine mate may not get it and end up confusing her.
Of course, this only applies when you have the luxury of bringing home both animals as youngsters. If not, read on.
Assign Your Cat Her Own Territory
When you get both a cat and a dog, make sure that your feline pet gets her own space in the house. Having such an area is crucial during their first meeting, but it is also important as the days pass since it will act as a refuge that she can use for some downtime.
If your home or apartment is a bit small, you don’t have to limit the space your dog can access while still giving your cat her own territory.
Instead, maximise her innate ability to climb and give her some vertical space in your house. This can be a cat tree, a shelf, or anything similar, as long as it achieves the purpose: being an escape and sanctuary where she can observe her canine housemate from a comfortable distance.
Consider Their Personalities
Unlike what most people think, breeds don’t necessarily affect how well cats and dogs can get along. Instead, experts say that it is their personalities and energy levels that you should take into account.
If a puppy is territorial and a bit aggressive, having him join a household with a skittish cat is definitely not a good decision. Meanwhile, a senior dog (or one who is nearing his senior years) may not be very keen on sharing space with a rambunctious kitten.
Remember that if their personalities don’t match, you should consider having a backup plan. The worst-case scenario would be setting up an arrangement where both animals are separated for the long term.
To avoid this, make sure that you do research on the pet you’re planning to bring home – be it a cat or a dog – and ask the shelter or previous owners about how they behave around other animals.
Train Your Dog Before Their First Meeting
One of the common reasons why households with dogs and cats succeed in making the two animals get along is because the canine was trained beforehand to control his impulses. Check whether he leaps to catch a falling cookie or suddenly goes on high alert when a squeaky toy is within sight and earshot. If he does, he may not be a good fit with a feline companion.
As a puppy, you can teach your canine pal to stay put when told and play only with toys. Doing so will prevent him from chasing your cat and teach him to respect rather than pursue smaller animals.
Introduce Items First
Another trick in ensuring that dogs and cats who would be living together will get along is to introduce their items first.
Before their face-to-face meeting, bring each of the animals to the other’s bedding and have them sniff around their toys. This way, they can satisfy their curiosity and prevent fights that may occur when one of them decides to investigate the other while he is around.
Introduce Them Slowly
After easing in the idea of a feline companion to your dog, and of a canine mate to your cat, you can already begin introducing them slowly. As with humans, first impressions are also important for animals, so you can make the introduction between your pets around food.
In short, the best time for dogs and cats to meet for the first time is during mealtime.
Besides remembering to order pet food and supplies for both animals, you should keep in mind that first-time meals should be done on either side of a closed door. While they don’t see each other, they will still be aware of the other’s presence through their scent. By introducing each other’s scent as they enjoy delicious food, you’re building a positive association between the food and a new friend.
Do this for as long as necessary – a few days or weeks, depending on your pets’ reactions. From there, slowly introduce the visual element by feeding them in the same room with your canine pal on a leash.
When you feel that they’re ready, you can remove all barriers between the two. At this point, they should be able to live well together.
Both dogs and cats don’t sit well with favouritism, especially if they are holding the shorter end of the rope. That said, be sure to maintain equality in toys, treats, and even your attention to keep the peace between your feline and canine friends.
Ensure that both animals can gain access to the same number of treats and toys to keep things fair. The same goes for the time you spend with them.
That said, avoid fussing over your puppy when he approaches you – tails wagging and ears perked up – whenever you arrive home. This will not escape your cat’s attention, who would eventually find ways to show her displeasure.
Living with Cats and Dogs
Living with cats and dogs that don’t chase each other around from morning until sundown is not a miracle – it’s a result of hard work and careful consideration of the pet owner. If you’re planning to make this your home setup, be sure to follow the tips listed in this article to increase your chances of success.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.